STRANGER: Asking Christopher Hitchens to comment on Potlucks for Peace is about the same as asking Donald Rumsfeld ["Chew on This," Jan 16]. With either one you wouldn't expect to get any kind of reasoned analysis.
Hitchens has rabidly embraced the hawk position, and his main point seems to be that Saddam is such a bad guy that a preemptive U.S. war is justified. Nobody disputes that Saddam is trouble. But Hitchens is wrong about a number of things.
There's no evidence at all that Saddam is linked to al Qaeda. In fact, because Iraq is basically a secular state, bin Laden probably has Saddam pretty high up on his Arab Enemies list, along with the Saudi monarchy. Hitchens equates the peace movement today with the minuscule opposition to the war against al Qaeda right after 9/11. He just hasn't been paying attention. I'm pretty sure the vast majority who took part in antiwar activities this weekend support the search-and-destroy mission against fundamentalist terrorists and are fearful that a war in Iraq could distract the U.S. from it.
The marchers and potluckers last weekend came right out of the mainstream of American society. I hope the Stranger editors assigned a reporter to attend a couple of the 65 Potlucks for Peace that were held in the Seattle area last weekend. If they did, there will be a story in today's Stranger about a broad spectrum of the Northwest American middle class coming together to protest a war while eating fried chicken and vegetarian tacos.
These war protesters espouse a wide range of points of view, from Right to Left. What they have in common is that they think that Bush is not telling the truth; that there are peaceful ways to deal with Iraq; and that this war will be a disaster for our society and our economy, as well as bringing untold suffering to the people of Iraq.
Tom Herriman, coordinator, Potlucks for Peace
STRANGER: Here come the chickenhawks, touting their war, clucking about the barnyard again. Here comes the oh-so-moral Mr. Christopher Hitchens to give us all a lesson in real global politik.
Hitchens offers the antiwar movement a lecture on the brutal nature of Saddam Hussein, but many of us are aware of Hussein's brutality. We opposed U.S. backing of him years ago for that very reason, back when Mr. Hitchens' current heroes were using Hussein as a proxy in the war on Iran. We oppose Mr. Hitchens' "war on reaction" now, as the company the U.S. government keeps indicates no change in the basic nature of Western imperialism. Since he's so eager to throw numbers about, let Mr. Hitchens provide solid evidence of the wonders of his neocolonialist new world. He won't, because he can't.
This opposition to the war will continue to struggle and grow. We will not take sides in this falling-out between thieves. We will not recant, or concede error, when the entire justification for the current war is a whitewashing of the past history of the imperialism of the United States and the rest of the Western world.
Michael Hureaux, via e-mail
STRANGER: Christopher Hitchens can connect the dots in Chile, but not in the Mideast. In 1953, Iran elected a secular government whose first priority was nationalizing the oil fields. The U.S. response was a coup installing the Shah. Today, Iran is again moving toward secular government, and Bush's response is to include them on the Axis of Evil tour. Our military-industrial complex couldn't care less about democracy or human rights in the Mideast (or here). Saddam Hussein and the Taliban were typical clients until they "turned bad." In countering terrorism, war should be the last resort, while diplomacy and energy conservation should be priorities--but war is more profitable, and it distracts the public from corporate scandals.
Ben, via e-mail
STRANGER: How much did you pay Christopher Hitchens to belittle the Seattle citizens who oppose Bush's upcoming war, and are you going to pay an equal amount for someone to write an alternative viewpoint? About Iraq, Hitchens sounds a little more coherent than sex columnist Dan Savage, but they're both hopelessly hysterical.
War is blunt, crude, ugly, and unpredictable. It's a primitive policy instrument. It should always be used as a last resort, and certainly not as a scheduled activity to prime an electoral campaign machine. Smug, haughty intellectuals like Christopher Hitchens don't mind cheering on the war-propaganda machine, because they'll never suffer any of its consequences. They don't enlist, they don't serve, and they really don't care. Those who supported the first Persian Gulf War should at least stand on their principles and reiterate the first and most fundamental rule of international law: No nation has a right to invade another. Despite Hitchens' rhetoric, there is no evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda--and until one is established, an invasion and occupation of Iraq would be illegal and immoral. The blood will be on our hands.
Tim Osumi, via e-mail
Editor's note: Go to www.thestranger.com/specials/hitchens.html for more letters about Christopher Hitchens' "Chew on This."
DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS: Last week, we misspelled Kim Chi Bistro in our Chow section ["Authentic Korean on the Hill," Jan 16]. We regret the error. Our food editor is dumb.